Chapter 5. A 40-Year-Old Man Tale
"The fan request tonight is for those out here who miss someone today. This is for you." Joe said into the microphone before they started singing Hello, Beautiful.
'Cause I could go across the world
And see everything and never be satisfied
If I couldn't see those eyes
It's an understatement to say I have thought about that moment at least a thousand times. That subtle detail meant a lot to me. That same night, I went home before the show was over. Up until the moment I walked into my apartment, I felt I was carrying a 500-pound weight in my chest.
"Hey, you!" Anna squealed when I walked through the door. The moment she pulled me in for a hug, I burst into tears.
"Charlie, what's wrong?" She pulled away to look at me, giving me that same concerned look Joe gave me earlier.
I shook my head, unable to speak. She walked me to the couch, and I laid down with my head on her lap letting the tears flow freely.
Something I really appreciated about Anna is that she respected the silence when something really was wrong. She was just there for me, even if she didn't know what was wrong.
The next morning, I woke up feeling horribly hungover. My eyes and my body hurt tremendously. I was still on the couch.
"You look like crap." Anna said from the kitchen, walking over to hand me a cup of coffee.
I gratefully took it. "Gee, thanks." I smiled slightly before taking a sip.
"How are you feeling?" She sat down beside me, placing her hand on my leg.
"I'm just.. overwhelmed, that's all." For a lack of better words.
"Charlie, we don't have to talk about what's happening, but if this job is making you come home like this after a few weeks, that's something to consider."
She was right. But what other options did I have? I hugged her. "I love you. I miss you a lot."
"I love you too. And I'm here for you. Whatever those stupid brothers did to you, I'm here. I’ll roundhouse kick them. They’re short anyway." We both laughed.
"They've been great. They're seriously amazing."
"I can't say I'm not jealous." She said excitedly. "I'd kill to get paid to see them shirtless. Have you seen them shirtless?"
I rolled my eyes at her. "They sleep shirtless, and I wake them up every morning. Plus outfit changes and such. Yeah, I've seen them shirtless a lot."
"You better tap one of those celebrity asses." Anna warned.
I made a face. "Anna! It's not like that. We've just kind of became work friends. And they are taken, you hoe."
Anna giggled. "So.." she rolled her eyes. If the slutty came naturally to anyone, that would be Anna.
"Shut up." I looked at the time. "We need to get ready to pick up mom."
We both went to our rooms to get changed. I put on a pair of jeans, a white shirt and sneakers. About an hour later, we were waiting for my mom at the airport while Anna squeezed any details about the boys out of me. We met her outside a while later, and I melted into her arms as soon as I saw her.
We spent the entire two days together except when Anna had to work. Being with Anna and my mom lifted my spirits up incredibly. I felt normal again. I really didn't think about the boys, or Don. I focused on the people that I loved the most in this world. Until those god damned words came to me once more:
"We've all agreed we like you a lot. You're a breath of normality in this world of schedules and routines. So, don't quit on us."
I looked at the time. 2 AM. And I couldn't stop thinking about Joe's words. I sighed, frustrated that I couldn't just go to sleep. The emotional implication of this was too high. I wasn't expecting them to be this welcoming, especially him.
I looked over when I found my mom's eyes on me. I smiled slightly.
"Can't sleep again?" She asked, brushing my hair with her fingers. "You have an early flight."
"I don't want to go." I complained, throwing the pillow over my face in frustration.
"Oh, sweetheart," she pulled me into her arms. "It's okay. Remember how hard it was when you first moved here? You didn't know anyone and you were scared. But you always knew why you were doing it, and you stuck through it. Now it passed and it doesn't scare you. It's going to be the same way with this." She gave me a comforting smile.
That night before I fell asleep, I contemplated ending it. Just going to Don and telling him I didn't want to do it anymore. Moving on with my life and maybe going back to college. But every time I thought about the feeling in my chest when I saw the sound and love that filled those venues, I felt a thug in my heart. I wanted that more than anything.
Even though my mom and Anna were reluctant, I decided to take an Uber to the airport since my flight was at 4 AM. I flew to New York, just like the first time, for the Buffalo show. I slept through the whole flight, and had a car waiting for me when I landed.
I immediately got to work after I arrived. Even though I wasn't really there to be working, Felicia did a damn good job at making it seem like I was. But I appreciated it, because it made time go by fast.
"The family is coming tomorrow so please make sure the reservations are set as well as transportation from the airport and such."
I nodded and got to work. I was at the front desk about to confirm the reservations before I realized I didn't know what time their family was arriving. One thing about rich people: They never plan things that normal people would actually plan. Wanna go to Paris? Sure, let’s leave tonight. And then their assistants handle the administrative mess. I ended up sorting it out with the Jonases and Danielle because I arranged their flights, but I had no information about Priyanka and Sophie's arrival time.
I didn't go to the show because I was busy preparing and hiring the proper staff to take care of everyone. Lunch, cars, venue seats. I don't know how Felicia managed to do everything at once. Things as little as diet for each individual person required a lot of time.
I sighed, realizing it would be the first time I was to talk to them them after I came back. I pulled out my work phone and called Joe.
After three rings, he picked up.
"Hey, it's Charlie, I'm just calling bec-"
"Who?” He interrupted me, and I could feel his sly smile over the phone. "Where are you? Why didn't you go to the show?"
I rolled my eyes at his attempt of a joke, holding back a smile. "I'm at the hotel. I'm trying to figure ou-"
"Did you have a good time with your mom?"
I sighed quietly. "Yes."
"I thought you'd say bye before leaving, but you're just rude like that."
I smiled, rolling my eyes once again. Joe Jonas had that effect on me. "Can you listen?"
"Yeah, what's up?"
"I need to know the arrival time for Sophie tomorrow so I can arrange pickup for her."
"Uhhhhh, Sophie flew to England today. She's coming for night two." he said. "I'll ask her what time and text you."
"Are you with Nick?" I asked.
"So where are you?" I asked while I was distracted cancelling Sophie's reservation on my iPad. My eyes went wide and my cheeks hot after I realized what I asked. Nosy much? "Uh, sorry. I'll call Nick. Thanks." I hung up before he answered.
Little smart me ended up cancelling everyone’s check-in when I went to cancel Sophie’s, so the rooms got messed up. I was so distracted fixing it before Felicia found out and killed me that I didn't notice my phone was going off in my pocket. I had 4 missed calls from Joe. I called him back.
"You're so intense!" I said after he picked up.
"Where are you? Come up. It's an emergency."
I hung up and basically ran towards the elevator. Heart beating fast in my chest, I arrived on the floor his room was in and knocked before deciding to open the door.
Joe was coming out of his bathroom with only a pair of jeans on. I immediately thought about Anna and her shirtless fixation on these boys.
"What happened?!" I asked loudly after I saw the state of calm he was in. I held my chest and took a few deep breaths until I was breathing naturally again.
He held up two shirts up that had bottles of beer on them. One white and the other one black. Was he serious?
I furrowed my eyebrows and let my arms fall at my side. What the hell? "Joe, what the hell?"
"I'm really feeling the black one, if you ask me." He nodded knowingly, examining it.
"Are you serious? I have work to do!" I scolded him.
"So, this is work. I need help and you're technically there for that." He smiled smugly.
I sighed, exasperated. "Black one." I said helplessly.
He threw it on. "You're amazing, Charlie. Thanks!"
I rolled my eyes at him as he sat down on his bed. "It was just an excuse to see your rude face." He smirked.
I mocked him by mimicking his words, which made him chuckle.
"Well, unfortunately I have quite a few things to sort out so you'll see my rude face later." I waved at him as I headed out.
"But wait!" He followed me out of the room, walking with me. "I'll help you." The resemblance to a 5-year old was uncanny.
I pressed the down button for the elevator so I could go to my room and get back to work. "You're bored, aren't you?" I looked at him knowingly.
"Look, I don't have a lot of free time and I'm choosing to spend it with you. So, be honored." He explained with a very Queen Elizabeth-y tone.
I huffed. "Okay then, Obama."
"You like Obama?" He made a face at me. "I didn't see you as an older guy kind of girl."
"You're so annoying." I opened the door to my room and Joe walked in behind me.
"Hey, you have a mini bar! How come we don't get one?" He immediately helped himself to a beer before laying down on the couch.
I sat on the desk and got to work as we talked. Joe was reading some fan tweets about the show and from time to time the room became filled with laughter at the ones he found funny. He was really hyper after shows for some reason. He FaceTimed Sophie for a bit, called his mom, talked to another friend I can't remember the name of. Eventually, I noticed he quieted down.
I looked over to find him passed out on the couch. I instinctively smiled. I got the cover from the bed and laid it on top of him gently before turning off the lights to use the bedside lamp as light resource.
I went back to work. It was about 1 AM when I had finally sorted everything out. Joe was still asleep, snoring lightly.
I leaned to rest my face on my hand, looking at him, while I debated whether to wake him up or not. He was starting to get really tired. Even though he didn't mention it, it was clear. They all were.
Instead, I hopped in the shower. One thing I hated when Joe was around is that I had to get ready inside the bathroom. The humidity had me ready for another shower before I even had my pants on! When I walked out, I heard a knock on the door. The only one knocking at my door at this time was Joe, and he was still asleep, so I was curious to see who it was.
I walked over and poked my head out. It was Nick.
"Hey, do you know where Joe is? I texted him but he didn-"
He trailed off when I opened the door and he spotted Joe snoring. He rolled his eyes.
"Really?" He made a face.
"I didn't know whether to wake him up or not." I shrugged lightly.
He sighed, running his fingers through his hair. His expression changed. "Uh.. do you um.. have a minute to talk?"
I mimicked his expression by looking serious as well. I nodded. "Sure, yeah, what's up?"
"Not here." He looked at Joe, which made me genuinely curious now. "Let's not wake him up."
I lightly closed the door and followed him into his room. I realized I hadn't been in Nick's room for more than 15 minutes at most ever since we met. I hung out at Kevin's more often than his.
We sat down on the couch overlooking the huge window after he poured us both a drink. Where he got it from? I have no idea. I decided against saying anything and just accepting it. His curtains were rolled open. This city truly never slept, I thought. All the lights on all the time, it always felt busy. Nick pulled me out of my thoughts.
"I'm sorry to bother you," he spoke nervously. "But Kevin's daughter just lost her first tooth and he's so stoked that I don't want to burden him with this. And Joe's, well, you know," he ran his fingers through his hair. "You've became kind of a good friend of ours, so, I thought I'd take you up on your offer and talk to you instead." He looked at me before looking down again. He looked nervous, and miserable. "If that's okay." I immediately nodded in response.
Pause. I just want to say that I have met very little people like Nick Jonas. This man was a 40-year-old trapped inside a 26-year-old's body. He was nice and funny in kind of an odd way. And most importantly, he had a very closed list of people he would open up to. At that point, I was more shocked by that than I had been at been anything in a while. Until I heard what he said next.
"I want a divorce."
I choked on my drink when he said that, so what was followed was an embarrassing attempt of me gasping for air.
"What?" I asked, not hiding the alarm all over my face.
He sighed. "It has been World War III with Priyanka and I ever since this band got back together. At first, everyone was like, 'whatever, it's normal', but it's not normal anymore. Every time we talk we end up fighting," He explained. "Like last night, our last night together alone for a while, she decided to fight me on a video of me interacting with a fan." He huffed incredulously.
"Today when you called about her arrival time, I thought about her, and how much I didn't want her to come. I look at Joe and Kevin and they seem so happy about Soph and Dani coming. But I just can't be." He sighed, defeated. "That's when I realized I rarely look forward to being with her lately. Well, never. And that's not how a recent marriage should work."
I listened, understanding every word he said until he fell silent. He looked lost in so many thoughts, so I prioritized the silence for a second before speaking up.
"I understand where you're coming from. Really, I do," I started. "But look, Nick, you love Priyanka and that just pours out of you. And she loves you too. This whole situation hasn't been ideal for any of you. But let's look at it from Priyanka's point of view," I suggested.
"For a couple of months, she got nothing but your attention all the time. Then she stopped getting it. What is normal for a recent marriage is for you guys to want to be together all the time. And that's not possible anymore. Instead, you're doing something you love, and she gets your absence in return. So maybe all the fighting is just a way for her to get your attention."
I put my hand on his thigh, which made him look at me. "A divorce should be the last thing on your mind. Talk to her about this first, and there's always therapy if you feel like it could help. But you're not getting divorced when there's this much love involved."
"I just want her to be more open about what she's really feeling instead of picking up random fights. I'm tired of it, everyone's tired of it."
I smiled at him. "Then you need to let her know that you're willing to put everything aside for a second and listen to her."
"You're right. Thank you, Charlie." Nick squeezed my hand for a second before pulling me in for a hug.
The unexpected movement made me spill my drink on him. We both quickly stood up. Nick laughed when he saw how red I must've been from how mortified I was.
Both of my hands covered my mouth. "Oh, God. I'm so sorry! Stop laughing. I'm sorry!"
Nick pulled off his shirt, still laughing. What was with these guys being absolutely comfortable being shirtless around me?
"It's fine. You're okay." He assured me.
Someone knocked on the door and Nick went to answer it. Joe walked in almost in automatic mode before noticing me. He stopped in his tracks.
"Charlie." He raised an eyebrow at me, then looked at Nick shirtless. He repeated that for a few times.
"Charlie knocked a drink all over me." He explained. I went red again.
"Yeah, it smells like alcohol in this place. What are you doing here anyway?" Joe asked.
Nick and I both looked at each other. He gave me a pleading look. To not say anything, I assumed.
"Uh.. I.." I started, scratching my head. "I just needed to talk to someone, I guess. I was missing my mom a lot, and yeah."
Joe nodded once, a serious look on his face.
"I should probably head to bed." I excused myself before hugging Nick goodbye. He mumbled a 'thank you' before I headed out.
Holy shit, that was intense.